Two of the biggest names in mobile are reportedly participating in the land grab for the patents belonging to bankrupt telcom firm Nortel.
Reuters quotes unnamed sources in a story published yesterday detailing how the auction currently underway for the intellectual property assets of the former Canadian giant is expected to draw the interest of Apple, Google, and others, including perhaps Motorola and Research In Motion.
Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2009, and has roughly 4,000 patents that are calculated to be worth more than $1 billion collectively. The rumor is that the patents have been divided into six groups by category, and cover everything from mobile phones, PCs, wireless infrastructure, networking, Web-based advertising, and voice technology. Reuters' source says Apple, Motorola, and RIM are probably most interested in the IP-related to LTE (Long-Term Evolution), the 4G wireless technology many carriers are in the process of rolling out now.
The auction actually began seven months ago, but final bids are due soon.
That Apple and Google are involved isn't a surprise: they've got a lot of cash to play with. But why bother purchasing patents? For one, it's a potential source of revenue if they sell licenses to the patents after they acquire them. But mostly it's for legal protection. Almost every major player in the mobile world is embroiled in one patent-related lawsuit or another right now. Just in the past year, Microsoft, Motorola, HTC, Apple, Google, Nokia have sued or are being sued over some mobile software or smartphone intellectual property.